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Friday, 5 February 2016

A Conservative Reading List Courtesy of Robert Finn

A conservative Reading list courtesy of Robert Finn @RobertFinn12. More great conservative books may be found here: Part 1 and Part 2 and more articles by Finn here: Remembering John A Macdonald, Remembering Edmund Burke,

Sir Winston Churchill’s Marlborough: His Life and Times

A rare moment in history! A historical titan writing a life of another historical titan! What’s more- the four volume biography Sir Winston Churchill wrote of his greatest ancestor, the great statesman, diplomat, and never defeated soldier John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough is not only a supreme work in biography, yet is also a classic of English literature. Marlborough: His Life and Times retells the tale of the rise of England’s greatest prime minister before Sir Winston himself; it tells of Marlborough’s times, and all the foibles and follies, virtues and triumphs of his era. More than that, however: it shows us that Marlborough was not selfish or superfluously ambitious; rather, it displays to us a portrait of a man farseeing, tolerant, compassionate, who refused to forfeit his and his nation’s religion to the ambitions of an arbitrary potentate. Marlborough was truly one of the English-Speaking Peoples greatest conservatives!

  1. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

Tocqueville’s magnum opus, Democracy in America, made me a conservative. His profound analysis of liberty and equality in the American polity profoundly affected my views of liberty and equality. Likewise, his detailed discussion as to how history forms a nation's politics drifted my thinking away from abstract theories to more real historical realities. Truly a book of political science that all conservatives should be well acquainted with.

  1. Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France

The book that begun a movement! And what prose! Such profound analysis of the effects of ideas! Never has ever such an elegant writer ever used his pen to such effect to denounce idealism and tyranny. Burke poses timeless conservative themes which, as history has proven time and time again, are as true as gravity. Burke does away with all social contracts or any other innate redundancies. Instead, Burke believes that we are the inheritors of a grand order, one of which if we deviate from brings chaos, ruin, and catastrophe. Sadly for some, he’s right, as most of the time he is.

  1. Thomas Hobbes Leviathan

We do not have to agree with Hobbes in that humanity is essentially selfish and at war with one another. Neither do we have to believe that the relationship between mankind and their governments is one based on a contract. Yet we must acknowledge that mankind does need a government to not only govern itself rightly and calmly, yet also to enjoy our lives. We cannot enjoy the company we naturally do enjoy with our friends, or spend our evenings either reading a beloved book or in the warmth of a fireplace seated with our family upon a couch watching a movie if we do fear invasion from foreign powers or harm from within. Hobbes’ analysis of the purpose of government is, I believe, both the most right and the most rational; and surely all conservatives should satiate their palates with Hobbes once in awhile.

  1. Lord Macaulay’s History of England

The much maligned Macaulay. Yes he was a literary rogue; and yes he does have Whiggish prejudices. But Macaulay followed in the footsteps of Burke, for they are in the essentials in agreement: the Glorious Revolution of 1688 was a restoration of the rights of Englishmen. What Macaulay meant by “progress” is essentially Burkean: a slow reform from a state of barbarism to civility, staying within the boundaries of the polity. Besides, like Gibbon or Adams, Parkman or Creighton, Macaulay is actually a pleasure to read: his style, I’d say, is the greatest in our tongue, a rich combination of Homer and Bunyan, Dante and Virgil, Milton and Burke.